Evening Spike in Near Misses with Trains
prompts new Level-Crossing Safety warning for Commuters
Britain's commuters are being warned to take care at level crossings on their journey home from work
after new figures from Network Rail revealed that more than half of all near misses with trains at level crossings
over the last five years took place during the evening rush hour.
To combat the problem and help improve the safety of everyone who travels on or across the railway,
Network Rail today launched a new level crossing safety awareness campaign targeting commuters,
reminding them to take care at level crossings, particularly as they travel home from work.
Britain has the safest major rail network in Europe but injuries and near misses on level crossings still occur
– particularly at the beginning and end of the working day. In the last five years, there have been more than 500 near misses
involving cyclists, motorists and pedestrians during the peak travel hours for commuters –7-9am and 4-7pm.
Six out of every ten of these incidents (61%) occur during the evening rush hours.
The new campaign aims to encourage safer behaviour at level crossings, reminding everyone:
- Amber warning lights at road level crossings means ‘stop – a train is coming' *
- Don't rush and try and beat the barriers or other warning systems at level crossings
- Beware of distractions such as phones or music
- Never assume that there is only one train coming
or think that you know the timetable to guess when a train might come
Network Rail's campaign launch coincides with British Transport Police's (BTP) Operation Look level crossing safety initiative.
BTP and Network Rail safety teams will be at level crossings across Britain today handing out leaflets and travel card holders
carrying key safety messages and giving advice on how to use level crossings safely to commuters and other level crossing users.
Darren Cottrell, Head of Level Crossing Safety at Network Rail, says:
“Commuters want their journey to or from work to be as quick and easy as possible,
and I understand they may find waiting at a level crossing an inconvenience especially after a hard day's work.
It is important that everyone understands that level crossing warnings are there to keep us all safe,
so be vigilant and obey them – even if you're in a hurry.
“Network Rail is investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain,
but we need motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to do their bit too.
By paying attention to the warnings at level crossings and avoiding distractions, we can all keep ourselves out of harm's way.”
Network Rail is investing £100m into its programme to improve level crossing safety as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan.
Since 2010, it has:
Employed more than 100 dedicated level crossing managers
Replaced footpath crossings with footbridges
Installing warning lights as an additional safety measure at footpath crossings
Launched a new schools programme – Rail Life – teaching both primary and secondary school children
about how to stay safe when crossing the railway
Rolled out safety camera enforcement vans in partnership with BTP
Invested in new technology such as the obstacle detection radar
Introduced power operated gate openers
Installed spoken warnings to announce if another train is coming after one train has passed through
Closed over 990 level crossings
Network Rail and Train Operators in the South East
appeal to truck drivers
after lorries hit three bridges in 12 hours
7 March 2015
Passengers in the South East suffered delays yesterday evening and this morning (Thursday and Friday)
after three bridges were hit by high vehicles within 12 hours of each other.
Network Rail is appealing to drivers of heavy goods vehicles to take more care around low bridges as delays mount up.
First, a bridge over the South Circular in Tulse Hill was hit on Thursday night, leading to delays to Thameslink passengers.
Then on Friday morning, Grosvenor Road Bridge near Victoria was hit by a heavy goods vehicle,
leading to delays to Southern and Gatwick Express passengers,
and a bridge near Orpington station was struck, bringing delays to Southeastern passengers.
Network Rail's Route Managing Director, Alasdair Coates, said:
“We work closely with highways authorities to make sure our low bridges have good signage
and drivers are aware when they may be in danger of hitting them.
“Despite that, we continue to see passengers delayed by high vehicles striking our bridges.
With a railway network as busy and complex as ours in the South East,
knock-on delays can spread very quickly and far from the site of the original incident.
“I urge hauliers and drivers to please be more careful.”
The situation is so serious at Tulse Hill that Network Rail
has now assigned response staff to monitor the bridge on location at peak times every week.
It has also installed a large steel protection beam, along with more signage
- including a large banner - and also CCTV.
Dyan Crowther, Chief Operating Officer at Govia Thameslink Railway, said:
“Lorries are hitting railway bridges with sickening regularity,
causing disruption to thousands of passengers every time.
The low bridge on the South Circular in Tulse Hill alone was hit by lorries four times in September
and has since been struck twice every month, causing 147 cancellations and delaying trains by over 73 hours in total.
For the sake of our passengers, this has to stop.”
Southeastern trains were delayed by a bridge strike in Orpington this morning (Friday)
and they also suffer occasional delays from notable low bridges near Dover, Strood and in Chestfield, Kent.
A Southeastern spokesperson said:
“When bridge strikes happen, we have to delay and often cancel trains
while repair work is taking place and throughout the day to allow delayed services to get back on track.
This impacts our train crew, who often find themselves displaced as a result,
and unfairly causes major disruption to our passengers.”
Not all low railway bridges need the railway to be closed when they are hit
and Network Rail grades the bridges according to their construction and their ability to withstand impacts.
Some bridges are vulnerable to strikes and are protected with steel beams to reduce impact. These
are also inspected by a qualified bridge inspector before trains are allowed to run at full speed over them.
For statistics and more on bridge strikes, go to http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/3563.aspx
Courtesy Network Rail Media Centre